St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas may have his sights firmly set on a top-six finish and possible European qualification but he is already starting to think of next season.
There are several players out of contract at McDiarmid in the summer, and while Lomas has begun negotiations he is aware that some of his squad may decide their futures lie elsewhere.
So, the Saints boss is keeping his options open and he revealed that 19-year-old Aston Villa midfielder Ebby Nelson-Addy has arrived at Perth for a week-long trial after being recommended by contacts south of the border.
He said: ”We have Ebby up here for a week. I like to have young players around. It’s good to have a mix of youth and experience in any squad.
”Villa are renowned for their youth academy and I know Gordon Cowans and Kevin McDonald, who have played a massive part in their success. There have been loads of kids coming through, including Scotland international Barry Bannan.
”We are just having a look at Ebby and he can see what we are all about. I took in a few games down south last week while Tommy Wright went to see Saturday’s opponents St Mirren draw with Hearts in the cup.”
He added: ”It is a balancing act at this stage of the season because our priority is making the top six. But we also have to keep scouring the country for fresh talent.
”We aren’t the sort of club that throws about three-year deals so we are bound to have players going out of contract every summer.
”We will probably have to take a gamble or two given the budget we work with. But we are trying hard to get players tied up on new deals. At any club you want to keep the core group and the success here has been built on continuity in recent years.
”But it is likely we will be looking to replace one or two current players, with Fran Sandaza probably going while Cillian Sheridan doesn’t know the scenario with CSKA Sofia.
”Changing four or five players would be OK but nine or 10 would be a difficult scenario for anyone trying to build a team.”
Lomas admitted that there are also complications to consider when trying to bring players to Scotland.
He said: ”Agents have a part to play but I haven’t yet heard one say his player is rubbish! And they all look world beaters in the highlights package.
”Trying to source players from England and bring them in is difficult. If you persuade them to come north there are relocation cost implications over and above wages. But that won’t stop me trying.”
Saints travel to Paisley at the weekend looking to continue their push for a top-six finish but Lomas admitted they may have to do so without skipper Jody Morris.
He added: ”Jody might struggle for this one as he is still getting treatment to his groin injury. We can’t afford to rush him and risk losing him for five or six weeks.
”Experienced players know their own bodies better than anyone and I trust Jody. But we may err on the side of caution.
”Steven Anderson is coming along after his knee injury against Hearts. He is a fit boy and we will see how it goes. Cillian will be suspended but we do have options.”
Saints have a closed-doors bounce game against Partick Thistle today.